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NYU Shanghai’s Volatility Institute Hosts Conference on Derivatives and Risks

On November 17, the Volatility Institute (VINS) at NYU Shanghai hosted its third annual conference investigating the potential impacts of derivatives trading on market volatility, especially in China and the United States.

Sponsored by China Financial Future Exchange and China Hedge Fund Research Center, this year’s conference discussed the dynamics of market volatilities in both developed and emerging economies where derivatives are increasingly being introduced to financial markets.

The conference received more than 100 submissions from researchers all over the world ranging from asset pricing, corporate finance, market microstructure, capital markets and international finance, of which eight were selected for presentation and discussion and five more were showcased in the poster session.

In his welcome remarks, Wang Jianye, Visiting Professor of Economics and Director of VINS, said the institute, on its third anniversary, has fulfilled its goal of creating opportunities for research and collaboration on “the study of risk in global financial markets with a focus on China and the US.”

“China is changing. Over the past three years, its financial markets have become bigger and more open; awareness of financial risk has also been increasing among policymakers and the public,” Wang said, adding that advances in FinTech, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain technology have profoundly changed the financial industry and central banking. “There are no shortages of intriguing policy and academic problems for research,” he said.

Wang Jiang, Mizuho Financial Group Professor at MIT, delivered a keynote speech at the end of the morning discussion, explaining the “dark side” of circuit breakers as a means to reduce excessive volatility and improve price efficiency. By comparing the practices of circuit breakers in the US and China, Prof. Wang advised policymakers to beware the dangers of using historical data to estimate the likelihood of circuit breakers being triggered after implementation.

In the afternoon session, Nobel Prize laureate and NYU Professor of Finance Robert Engle, on his third appearance at the VINS annual conference, discussed SRISK — the capital shortfall a financial institution needs to raise in order to function normally during a crisis.

Using several relative measures, Professor Engle explained the current and historical SRISK in global and Asia monitored by VLAB of NYU Stern School of Business.

“If SRISK is a large fraction of GDP, regulators will be particularly anxious to reduce taxpayer exposure,” said Professor Engle. “If SRISK is a large fraction of Market Gap, firms will be unwilling to sell new shares of stock as it will further depress equity prices. And if SRISK is a large fraction of Total Assets, then asset sales will be costly and will likely lead to a fire sale spiral. It is why we think that SRISK/GDP, SRISK/Gap and SRISK/ASSETS are important relative measures in capturing SRISK.”

Following Professor Engle’s keynote speech, a panel discussion addressed heated topics surrounding derivatives and market volatility, moderated by Zhou Xin, Executive Director of VINS. Five leading financiers and scholars offered their insight on the development and prospect of derivatives in Chinese financial markets.

This post comes to us from NYU Shanghai. The original can be found here.

NYU Abu Dhabi’s First Airline Cargo Logistics Course Really Takes Off

NYU Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo partnership a “win-win”

There’s a flurry of activity behind the large glass doors of the Madrid meeting room in Etihad Cargo’s head office in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City. The bright afternoon light streams in through large picture windows as students from New York University’s degree-granting campuses — eight from NYU Abu Dhabi, three from NYU Shanghai, and one from NYU New York— prepare to present interactive applications and product prototypes to senior Etihad Cargo officials.

A mechanical whir occasionally punctures the chatter in the room as a small, box-shaped robot with Etihad Cargo emblazoned across the top in gold letters moves across white tables in the center of the room.

Etihad’s David Kerr, senior vice president of cargo, and Robert Fordree, head of cargo handling, are ready to see the student’s protoypes for the first time:

  • Cargie: a load-carrying robot capable of machine learning;
  • Paper Trail: an app to track airway bills and cargo documents (the industry still relies heavily on paper);
  • Viz360: a virtual training app; and
  • HoloCargo, a 3D-scanning and virtual reality system that can help loadmasters build pallets of boxes in a 3D environment.

The prototypes are the end result of an intensive four-week summer course taught at NYU Abu Dhabi by Christian Grewell, adjunct assistant arts professor of interactive media arts at NYU Shanghai.

Students enrolled in the Driving Genius course are taught the ins and outs of robotics, programming, and design principles, combined with the technical know-how needed to develop products that cater specifically to the airline cargo industry, which is where Etihad Cargo stepped in as a course partner. The students get to use augmented reality, virtual reality, and sensory technology and also learn how be entrepreneurs, drawing up successful business plans for their products.

“It’s about establishing a partnership where students gain everything they would from a traditional course including the opportunity to test their models in the real-world ‘laboratory’ of the organization,” Grewell said about partnering with Etihad Cargo. “When Etihad engaged with us, they engaged across every function of their business and at various levels in the organization. We came up with ideas for people not just in executive positions, but in-line level operational roles. That’s an invaluable experience for students when combined with the work we do in the lab and classroom.”

Learning on the Fly

Students were given access to Etihad Cargo’s warehouse operations so they could understand how things work and identify processes where efficiencies could potentially be improved. They were then split into three groups and tasked with designing and developing feasible tailor-made solutions using virtual technology.

With augmented reality and virtual reality technology becoming more affordable and accessible, students in the course are also taught to manage expectations — their own and the client’s — to figure out what works best for a company’s business model.

Back in the Etihad Cargo meeting room, Grewell observes as the groups demonstrate their prototypes, occasionally chiming in with words of encouragement or offering bits of trivia.

“They’ve worked really hard on these presentations and the quality of their work is outstanding,” he said. “Generally students have all these great ideas and prototypes but they struggle when it comes to presenting.”

There’s no visible hint of a struggle or even nervousness as the students confidently field questions from Kerr and Fordree about their work prompting the senior vice president, at one point, to remark that their insights were spot on and that “the (cargo) industry is pretty underinvested in technology. I like to think that in the future, we’re not an airline business but a technology company with airplanes and warehouses et cetera.”

A final round of applause brings the presentations to a close and the students heave a sigh of relief as everyone shuffles out of the meeting room. It’s been an intense few weeks but Grewell emphasizes the need for a course like this as a bridge between classroom learning and meeting real-world corporate expectations.

“I think this is a win-win for all parties when educators, students and organizations come together,” he concluded.

By Deepthi Unnikrishnan, NYUAD Public Affairs; This piece comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi’s Salaam blog and is available here.

NYU Prague’s New Course – History in the Headlines

What if the titles of a course’s lectures were based on actual headlines?   This semester, the Prague site has done just that in our newly-launched course “History in the Headlines” and some examples of the lecture titles include:
Modern Life in an Old City: Is Prague Becoming a Disneyland? 
Donald Trump and  his  Czech Mini-me 
How will Brexit Change Central Europe?
The course meets once a week and is taught by 14 members of our faculty, each an expert on the topic they present.  Lecturers include the former Czech minister of foreign affairs,  leaders  of the Vevet Revolution and the dissident movement against Communism, an architect at Prague Castle, a film historian and a jazz musician.   Seminars are overseen by the NYU Prague Director Jiri Pehe and Assistant Director of Academics Vanda Thorne.
The original, highly-successful precursor of the class was developed in New York by Timothy Naftali in the Department of History (CAS).  In New York, the goal of the course was “to enable students to curate knowledgeably the flood of news spewing from their media 24/7.”
Eliot Bernstein from the Russian and Slavic Studies Department at CAS came up with the idea that the New York syllabus could be adapted by Prague.   According to Vanda Thorne, Assistant Director of NYU Prague, “We are following the NYU model, but additioanlly we are aware that our students have much less of a context to draw upon when they read articles about Czech or European news.  They didn’t grow up here, they might not know the history of the region.  We try to give them the historical and cultural context so they will can better understand whether the media is reflecting and interpreting things accurately.”
Students read and discuss academic articles in addition to the articles that the headlines come from.  Does the article reflect reality?  How do media report on hot topics – and how could they affect the opinions of the reader?
The 2-credit class is open to students of all majors and is designed to increase NYU’s affordibility as well as help students have a deeper understanding of the country and region in which they are studying.   Students who haven’t signed up for the class are welcome to audit.
This is a hot topic in the era of fake news.  Other NYU global sites are considering their own versions of this project, which would create space for interesting inter-cultural analyses and discussions – not to mention more interesting headlines.

NYU Sydney Focuses on Career Development for Study Away Students

Throughout a study abroad experience, students are challenged to look within. Upon arrival, their maturity and independence is tested. This occurs from the moment they are introduced into their new environment. They are pushed to navigate unexpected cultural differences, adapt to a different culture, and problem solve when necessary. This experience teaches students essential life skills which can later be transferred into their professional life.

With this in mind, NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and NYU Global Programs recently teamed up to host NYU Global Career Week. This week long event was filled with career development seminars and was hosted virtually and in-person. This event encouraged students to start thinking about how they can leverage their study away experience in their next internship or full-time position.

This past March, NYU Sydney hosted Allison Pirpich, Manager of Global Career Development, to led NYU Global Career Week on-campus. During this week, Allison hosted in-person seminars on a global job search, an U.S. job search, and Virtual Interviewing. Allison also hosted a lecture called, “Telling your Global Story,” to the academic internship course that showed students how to identify their skills and translate it to future, professional positions. These seminars showed students how their global experience can be translated to the experience section of their resume, examples in their cover letter, and answers to an interview question. Students learned the key to this process is making their study away experience relevant to the job description and needs of the employer.

In addition to these seminars, Allison met with students in one-on-one coaching appointments. Students brought in a wide-range of questions from, “I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate. How will I decide?” to “How do I search for my next NY internship from Sydney?” These conversations gave students the opportunity to learn what resources were available and how to create a strategy for their next career-related goal. These meetings continued after NYU Global Career Week with virtual coaching appointments and drop-in hours.

This event was accompanied by a Wasserman Global Peer, a student leader who was versed in resume creation, cover letter advice and knowledge of career development resources. This leader led a Resume & Cover Letter Workshop and was an in-person touch point for students throughout the entire semester.

Students often study abroad with the idea of living and working abroad in the future. NYU Global Career Week showed students how to make the case that their experience abroad makes them a valued and competitive candidate. It is important to prepare students with the confidence to demonstrate applicable traits in post-graduation job applications and in the real world.

NYU Tisch Dance Minor Credit Offered at NYU Shanghai

Students studying at NYU Shanghai can now qualify for half of the Dance Minor offered at NYU Tisch School of the Arts by taking two dance classes, Dance and Choreography & Performance, at NYU Shanghai.

NYU Tisch approved the two courses taught in Shanghai by professor Aly Rose in March, allowing students from across the global network to either start or finish their minor in Shanghai.

“This is a great opportunity for students to become leaders, artists, and diversify their skills for whatever careers they choose in the future,” says Rose, former Head of the Dance Minor at NYU Tisch where she taught Choreography, Chinese Dance, and Topics in Chinese Culture.

To be awarded a dance minor, students must complete a total of 16 credits in accredited courses, with Dance (ART-SHU 225A-001/225B-001) and Choreography & Performance (ART-SHU 239.4-001/239.2-001) at NYU Shanghai now counting 4 credits each towards the minor.

The two courses are already the most popular dance classes on campus, and students now have a new dance studio in the Shanghai academic building to train at.

“A week or two after landing in Shanghai, I enrolled in the Choreography & Performance class. The hours were long, and the coursework was demanding, but I stuck with it because I was genuinely interested in the content,” said study away student Emma Quong ‘19. “Little did I know that the course’s professor would bring an exciting dimension to my semester.”

Some of Rose’s students have gone on to hold public performances at some of the city’s biggest arts venues. The entire Choreography & Performance class performed CELL at the 18th International Art Festival Shanghai, while Emma Quongpresident of NYU’s ballet club –Janice Luo and Isabel Adler held performances at MOCA Shanghai in collaboration with Rose’s professional dancers.

“Professor Aly Rose constantly shared her professional opportunities with the students. Because of her, I was able to perform at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival Campus Performance and also at the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (MOCA). And through NYU Shanghai, 5 invited students and I were sent to NYU Abu Dhabi to dance at the Body Voices Conference,” added Quong.

“All of my classes are open to everyone. No dance background is necessary,” says Rose. “It’s exciting to see a student transform, build up their confidence and learn how to express themselves more fully.”

While NYU Shanghai’s Dance course explores the history and movements of jazz, hip-hop, modern and classical Chinese dance, the Choreography & Performance course teaches students how to create their own work and work collaboratively with others.

“They learn how to trust their own bodies, respect and work with one another. Creating a dance vocabulary is very important part of choreography. It’s very exciting for student to have a voice and learn how to express themselves with their body,” Rose said.

“Collaborating with other students, professional dancers, and the Chinese arts community I found new perspective to dance and performance. I realized that it is not just about comparing the culturally different end products, but to also understand the importance of their various creation processes,” said Quong.

“At the end of the semester we put on a big show in front of a live audience. A lot of them are showing their own work for the first time and for some, dancing for the first time. It’s very impressive because their majors are business, finance, etc,” said Rose.

NYU Shanghai students wishing to complete the minor during their study away year can take a combination of the following courses at NYU Tisch: either History of Dance or Why Dance Matters for 4 credits each, and any combination of 2 point Ballet, Modern, African, Flamenco, Hip Hop and Indian dance.

This post comes from NYU Shanghai and originally appeared here.

Getting Away and Coming Together – Global Media Instructor Sacha Molitorisz shares what makes NYU Sydney unique

students on rock art trip
Each semester, shortly after landing in Australia, NYU Sydney students retreat to a lesser-known corner of greater Sydney for a field trip. Most recently, these overnight excursions have been to idyllic Milson Island, on the Hawkesbury River.
“We stepped off the boat,” recalls student Lori Gao. “We walked up a steep, hilly path and split into cabins named after Australian birds. After settling into our lodges, we assembled on a large sunny field for a group introduction, and split into groups to perform various activities throughout the next two days. We built rafts, played cricket, shot bow and arrows.”
Field trips are an integral part of a semester at NYU Sydney, and Milson Island in particular is good fun. There are campfires and marshmallows, guitars and ghost stories. But there’s more than that.
“The Milson Island retreat was indeed one mentally and personally, allowing time to unwind, contemplate, connect, and culminate experiences,” wrote student Diptesh Tailor in a paper after his visit in spring 2015. In particular, Diptesh was impressed by the “tranquility and calm vibrancy of the environment.”
The start-of-semester retreat has two main aims. One is for NYU staff and newly-arrived students to get to know one another. It’s a bonding exercise. A second aim is for students to get a true taste of the Australian landscape: the curious wildlife; the grand sandstone; the sweeping waterways. The retreats forge connections in the great outdoors, among the kangaroos and kookaburras. They blend community and nature.
For many students, it is the wildness of the Australian landscape that leaves a lasting impression. As student Robert Leger wrote in a paper submitted for the Global Orientations course, “An impressive amount of this country has been left largely untouched and unaffected by civilization. One instance of this pristine environment was evident in the surroundings of Milson Island. Although the island itself is developed – to an extent – its surroundings, the forests and estuary encompassing the small island, appear as though they are lands that have never been trod on.”
campfire
During each semester, NYU Sydney students are offered an array of field trips. Some, such as the surfing trip to the northern beaches, are for all students. Others are for students of particular courses. For Global Media, for instance, students visit ABC TV to be in the studio audience for a live broadcast of the panel show Q&A.
“I couldn’t get enough of Q&A,” wrote student Kate Rowey after her visit. “I left with a much better understanding of Australian politics, not just conceptually but how Australians discuss their politics. I took a leap and decided to request to be in the live audience for the following week’s Q&A. To my excitement, not only was I invited back but I sat front and center.”
“The field trips are special,” says Professor Jennifer Hamilton. “It is rare to get field trips in undergraduate programs because the classes are so big. The size of the classes here in Sydney enable us to offer a range of learning experiences.”
During field trips to Earlwood Farm, Professor Hamilton has taught Eco-Criticism students about experimental, eco-friendly farming she and others are practising right in the heart of suburban Sydney. Hamilton loves it when students hold her chickens. “Do you live in a hippy commune?” one student asked. No, she answered – even though she had to admit hers is hardly an ordinary house in the ‘burbs.
Meanwhile, as an anthropology professor, Petronella Vaarzon-Morel is especially fond of field trips. “Participant observation is a hallmark of the anthropological method,” she says.
With students of Anthropology of Indigenous Australia, Professor Vaarzon-Morel has visited the Kur-ring-gai Chase National Park to see Aboriginal rock art sites.
“Learning about rock art from a photographic image is simply not as informative – nor exciting – as being culturally immersed in the environment in which the rock art was produced,” Vaarzon-Morel says. “In Kur-ring-gai Chase National Park students were able to walk around rock art designs depicting whales, dolphins and other animals, and with the smell of salt water and wind in their hair, experience the import of the site in a visceral way.”
On-site, the students were taught by Matt Poll, an Indigenous expert with immense knowledge of archeological sites. On these and other anthropology field trips, students are always particularly keen to learn about bush medicine and bush tucker.
The effects of the field trips can be profound. For some, the visit to Milson Island has prompted a philosophical redrafting of the relationship of human beings and nature. This insight is reached, in part, thanks to the dramatic contrast between the Aussie wilderness and Washington Square. If Milson Island is largely about community and nature, it encourages many students to reconsider their conceptions of both.
Milson Island led Diptesh Tailor to imagine green cities, which would be peopled by “proactive, globally-oriented citizens who challenge conventional boundaries and share their creative and intellectual insights.”
As he wrote after the retreat, “I hope to continue to develop my perspective on nature … and the prospects for the civilisations which will pioneer the evolving relationship with nature and self.”
student bonding

Europe: Identity and Integration – conference in Prague

Prague conference
For nine years NYU Prague has been organizing annual conferences, bringing faculty from other sites to discuss issues of world-wide importance. This spring, academics from several NYU global sites and other European universities came to Prague for a conference entitled Europe: Identity and Integration. Faculty from three different NYU sites attended – Prague, Berlin and New York – as well as academics from Charles University (Prague) and Central European University (Budapest) to debate topics that were particularly compelling so soon after the Russian invasion of Crimea.
Among the panelists was Joshua Tucker, professor in the Politics and Russian and Slavic Studies Departments of New York University. “Through this conference, NYU Prague is bringing people together – enhancing students’ experiences and as well as enhancing the research and educational outreach mission of the university. It is fantastic for NYU faculty who research Europe to sit down with people from local sites and exchange ideas. This is the dream of the Global Campus.“
Is it a bit strange to have American faculty from the US coming to Prague to discuss European Identity? Not at all, according to conference organizer and NYU Prague professor Petr Mucha. “This year we wanted an outside view on European identity. The European view of Federalism is different than that of the USA, which is a country of immigrants.“
“I come with a global perspective as well as an American perspective,” said John Shattuck, former US Ambassador in the Czech Republic and current Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest. Ellen Hume, journalist and currently a professor at Central European University, noted that the Central European concept of nationalism is connected to blood, not values – a paradigm that the Russians recently used to their advantage in Crimea. Professor Tucker agreed, noting that Europeans are “eons away from where we are in the US, where most people don’t identify with their states.”
Prague conference
Can a European identity be created? Ukraine showed that that people are willing to die for democracy, for Europe- “they dream of the ideals which we are not able to feel from the inside,” said Professor Jan Machacek (NYU Prague). “But it is disturbing that the European identity is at its most attractive at its outside,” said Larry Wolff, Director of the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies and Professor of History at NYU. “Ukrainians would die for Europe, but countries that are in Europe are frustrated.”
Both Gabriella Etmeksoglou (NYU Berlin) and Lenka Rovna (Charles University, Prague) were optimistic that education is having a huge impact on young people’s views of Europe- their ability to travel in other European countries, study, work, and then stay in touch with each other through social media is tremendous. “The future of Europe is a mix of nationalities,” said Professor Etmeksoglou.
Students, faculty, intellectuals, politicians attended the conference – which was streamed live and is still available for viewing online. “NYU is an exciting entity- there is a common academic culture but with a diversity of sites and local experience. Conferences give us the chance to think about deeper cooperation among the NYU European sites,” says Mucha. “NYU offers neutral soil where controversial issues can be discussed.“
Prague conference
The conference can be viewed at the following two sites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAkfOYQ_qcU

Berlin students inspired by Global Orientations course

Students in Berlin this term were inspired by the Global Orientations course and had positive reviews. Here are a few examples, one from an NYU student and one from a high school student who also participated in the course:
Brandon A Peckman, NYU Berlin, Spring 2014
Strolling through the snowy streets of Berlin, we stepped into a desecrated Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee flooded with memorials to the ghosts of the past. Having just listened to a lecture by Dr. Joseph Pearson abridging all of “German” history from the seventeenth century through the present day, we learned that history cannot be encapsulated in categorical periods, nor can the definition of “Germans” limit itself along ethnic, cultural, or historical lines. We were introduced to a thriving city in which–although bullet holes still blanket buildings–former industrial factories now serve as nightclubs, while a refurbished brewery houses our academic center. By walking through a cemetery, one realizes that many souls have lived before and many more are yet to emerge. As history is a perpetual process in flux, our orientation experience was the commencement of a continually evolving adventure.
Reflecting upon what has been a profoundly transformative seven weeks in Berlin, I find it difficult to remember our first week’s orientation. Perhaps the transition between America and this scintillating city was so subtle, as Berlin captivated us effortlessly with its enticing charm. Truly, orientation is still in progress, not concluding until we all leave Berlin and have the opportunity to reflect upon our soujourn’s impact. A series of panels during orientation week established Berlin as the capital of Germany: a European and global leader, an economic bulwark upholding stability, and a cultural volcano, erupting with limitless artistic creativity. We found ourselves becoming oriented to this fertile milieu, standing before a door wide open to myriad possibilities which sparked the paramount question: who walks back through the door the same as when first entered?
Naturally, the answer is different for each individual, as each one of us chose to come here for a particular purpose. Upon realizing why each of us made the voyage to Berlin, one crosses a threshold into a hall of a thousand rooms, some full of treasure and knowledge, some full of mirrors, but most full of empty space for us to fill with the constructions of our dreams. From the poignant vibrations by electronic duo Tronthaim accompanying the screening of Walter Ruttman’s 1927 classic Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt; to panels comprising debates about German identity, her position in twenty-first century global politics, and Berlin’s flourishing arts community; to mental wellness and urban preparedness seminars; to opportunities to meet and mingle with faculty, NYU Berlin’s orientation not only prepared us for our academic pursuits but also laid the foundation for discovery of the next steps in our individual paths. To immediately shatter doubt towards engaging with Germans, the faculty invited several honors students from a neighborhood high school to enjoy the events with us, as we all took initiative to introduce ourselves and share both similarities and differences in our respective cultural perspectives.
By diving headfirst into an unknown culture, one has the opportunity to build a home in a new place. From walking through the streets of a city inundated with history, one realizes that each of us are the consequences of the past, that we breathe within a living history, and that our actions forge the future. During this all-too-brief experience in Berlin, I hope we all discover why we came here and bring Berlin with us, wherever we may wander next.
Ivan Thieme, KTO, Honor Student Spring 14
As a high school student, participating in the NYU Berlin Global Histories Course I asked myself the following questions: How could I get involved to help the students from NYU better understand the society of Berlin? When the lessons began, I was very impressed with the atmosphere. There were many students from different nations in one big room and I was one of them. In the front stood Joseph Pearson, a fantastic professor who gave us a lecture leading us through German history. As a high school student, I thought I knew a lot about German history, but I was surprised yet happy at the same time to learn new things and to have the chance to listen to people with other perspectives on Germany. Another important aspect for me were the panel discussions; there were highly-qualified people involved in the discussion. The students from my high school, myself included, and the students from New York University also played an important role. We talked extensively about topics like immigration and art. But there were also difficult topics, for example the issue of how German society should deal with its past. These discussions were not only exciting but also educational. For me it was difficult to talk about such topics. I was afraid that people might misunderstand me and get bad impressions. But this fear settled quickly and the panel discussions sparked interesting and funny conversations with the NYU students. They were curious about Berlin and Germany, and I also had a lot of questions about their own culture. So we exchanged our knowledge and were able to learn something about the cultures of both countries. From my point of view, this is the most important thing when you move to another country.

Orienting students to Berlin

Each NYU study away site has a Global Orientation Course to orient incoming students to their new city. We’ll be exploring how students are oriented across the global network starting with Berlin.
The course in Berlin, German Histories in Contemporary Life, provides students with a unique perspective on European and global issues as they relate to Germany and Berlin. The experience really seems to ground the students and allows them to embrace the practice of Heimsteigen (“entering a new place and immediately adopting it as home without gradual transition”). This was a term that was coined and favored by some of the NYU Berlin Fall 2013 students.
Professor Joseph Pearson, Global Orientation Course Coordinator at NYU-Berlin, describes the course:
When we invite speakers to participate in NYU-Berlin’s Global Orientation Course, one of the most compelling draws is that they will have the chance to address students during their first week in the German capital. It’s a moment when students experience their first plunge of immersion into the local culture–– full of fresh impressions and observations. For speakers, it is not simply the opportunity to help form students’ first reactions, but also to re-examine their own well-formed responses to issues through the perspective of the newcomer.
As part of the most recent Orientation Course, NYU-Berlin welcomed incisive speakers discussing Berlin’s emergence as an arts capital: art critic Carson Chan, curators Sönke Müller, and Marcel Schwierin of Transmediale (Berlin’s digital arts festival), and Dr. Thomas Köhler, the Director of Berlin’s modern art museum who also teaches a class at NYU-Berlin. They are all experienced hands in the Berlin art scene and presented their concerns about market forces, growing commercialism and the rising costs of studio space. Our students, many fresh from New York, were the ones able to put these concerns in a comparative context––many of them astonished by just how un-commercial, un-gentrified and affordable Berlin remains despite its Renaissance as an arts metropolis. Precisely this exchange of expectations, and standpoints, has made the course so exciting.
Take this energy to subjects as polemic as what constitutes an appropriate memorial to the victims of the Holocaust (with on-site visits), the debate over a multicultural Germany, or Germany’s role in the ongoing Euro-zone crisis, and there’s plenty to keep one awake despite the post-arrival jetlag. All the sessions investigate the weight of the past on contemporary issues not just in Berlin, but in Germany as a whole, with a view to how often tragic histories can potentially be the basis for more tolerant societies. The bridge between the past and the present can perhaps be best seen in our screening of the landmark 1927 city film Berlin Symphony of a Great City, with a live-DJ’d score mixed by the group Tronthaim. The contemporary electronic soundtrack is like a séance, recognizing our position as viewers looking back at documentation of a city that has largely vanished––destroyed by wartime bombing.
As a historian––often inured to the war damage that pockmarks the façades in Mitte––I sometimes forget what a remarkable classroom Berlin can be. Having a student walking by my side and pointing up to a Soviet memorial or a stray piece of the Berlin Wall makes you see again what the eye has begun simply to glance over. Indeed, we all need to be orientated and re-oriented in Berlin––to be shown new places from which we can see the city.
NYU Berlin students
A group of students are visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman. Their guide is NYU Berlin professor Cristiana da Silva, who teaches classes in architecture.

Dispatch from Accra

Akosua AnyidohoThe 2013-14 academic year got off to an exciting start with an important symposium to commemorate our 10th anniversary celebration. In cooperation with NYU Florence, NYU’s School of Medicine, and our local partner institution, the University of Ghana, Legon, we hosted the symposium, “Healing Environment and the Creative Arts.” The symposium was organized to create awareness of the immense role the creative arts play in wellness and in healing.
Speakers at the symposium included Dr. Cheryl Heaton, the Director of the NYU Global Institute of Public Health, who is also the Dean of Global Public Health, NYU. Dr. Richard Ingersoll from NYU Florence presented a paper on therapeutic gardens. Dr. Sammy Ohene, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ghana Medical School spoke about traditional and modern healing in patient-doctor relationships. The local and international speakers explored important questions including how to define a positive healing space, how to provide a balanced healing relationship between patient and healer, and how to identify healing forces or measure healing outcomes. The event was well attended and well received, and we recently published a collection of the abstracts, which is available here (PDF).
During the fall semester, thirty-two students in Accra had the opportunity to select from seventeen courses taught by local part-time faculty and a visiting faculty member from NY. The courses included language study, literature, creative writing, music, film, public health, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and metropolitan studies. The site welcomed a new faculty member, Dr. Alice Boateng, who took over the Internship Seminar and Fieldwork course.
In addition to their experiences in the classroom, most students participated in academic internships and volunteer or community service activities. These activities involved working at special schools, health facilities, microfinance institutions, government departments, non-for-profit organizations, and media outlets. Service learning is a flagship program of NYU Accra and provides valuable opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of the local society.
NYU Accra also welcomed the Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED), a research center at NYU Abu Dhabi, which has just opened a facility across the road from NYU Accra. CTED focuses on the development of innovative and cutting edge technologies that can significantly impact economic development with a specific focus on problems faced in under-developed areas around the world.
Based in Abu Dhabi, CTED now maintains branches in New York, Accra, and soon Addis Ababa. CTED plans to involve both undergraduates at NYU Accra and resident Ghanaian scholars in its research activities.